In the modern world of green awareness and climate change, sustainability is becoming increasingly important- even on our holidays. So what is sustainable travel, and why should you consider it when looking into your next trip?
What is sustainable travel?
It can be easy to become confused by all the terms surrounding sustainable tourism, so let's break down exactly what it means.
Sustainable tourism is an umbrella definition that incorporates terms such as eco tourism and responsible tourism. There are many different definitions of the term, often depending on what company you travel with or which particular organisation you're looking at, but in essence it refers to the concept of having a positive rather than a negative impact on the places that you visit as a tourist. This applies equally to:
- The community: showing respect for local cultures and customs.
- The environment: Leaving a minimal footprint on the local ecosystem.
- The economy: Ensuring your spending benefits the local economy, and goes back to those who work within it.
One of the biggest misconceptions around sustainable tourism is that it relates only to the elusive concept of being 'green'. In fact, just as much weight should be put on the interaction with the local people and economy.
Why is it so important?
Sustainable tourism creates a number of benefits and also prevents huge amounts of damage that can be the result of too many people visiting one place. The key benefits are:
- Conserving the natural environment: Whether it's avoiding attractions which defile the local landscape, or ensuring that you leave no trace in your wanders through unique habitats, remember that the earth's ecosystems aren't renewable and need your protection.
- Creating better places to live: Sustainable tourism can provide not only amazing experiences for visitors but also those who live there on a permanent basis.
- Tourists having an honest look at their destination: Supporting local business and locally run tours gives a deeper insight into the culture, and you can learn about the environment from those who know it best.
- Stopping destruction to local communities: Displacement of traditional communities is often a by-product of tourism as giant hotels dominate the economic and physical landscape. Sustainable tourism promotes the survival of traditional local business and doesn't fund organisations who seek to exploit local communities.
How to do your part when you travel
You can make your own trip sustainable in many ways. On an individual level you can research the areas and hotels you stay at and work to reduce your footprint. You can also choose to take part in a wider entrepreneurial initiative to boost sustainable tourism. For example hotels committed to eco-friendly considerations or community tourism projects.
Tips for travelers
Taking part in sustainable tourism creates a better world for everyone, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Chose local operators: Whether it's hotels for a good night's sleep after a day of adventuring, trying out the local cuisine or finding a guide, pick businesses run or founded by locals. That way you know that the money you spend is going back into the local economy rather than overseas.
- Research your destination: Spend some time reading about the country and locality where you'll be staying before you leave. This way you can understand not only what beauty spots to make sure you see but also how to respect the local customs and the various struggles that the community may be dealing with.
- Minimise your footprint: Any efforts to reduce your energy consumption, be it short showers or switching lights off is always valued, especially when you're a guest in a new country. You can also try to avoid creating rubbish by bringing your own water bottles.
To find out more about how you can plan a more sustainable holiday, get in touch with the team at Hoot Holidays today.